Thursday, January 24, 2013

AfricaStyle: An Intro to Baskets

Now, this won't be the only time you hear about baskets from me... but before I delve into the world of African baskets, I am itching to let you all in on a secret.

I've been on a design blog kick the past few days and African baskets have been popping up here and there (hence this post). Honestly, I have been absolutely shocked at how expensive these baskets are in the US and on Etsy. Good lord!!! Take these gorgeous Senegalese baskets, for example:

From this pleasant and pricey store, Serena & Lily
A set of three baskets (one small, medium, and large) is for sale at $290.00.


There are 5 stands on my street that sell these very same baskets, in all sizes, shapes, and colors and to custom order if you like. The largest basket you can find might cost $20, maaaaaaaaybe (and if you aren't good at bargaining). Most baskets cost between $8 and $12. So that is a mark-up (on an already marked up product) of like, almost 90 percent. Now I understand import costs need to be factored in and yes, they're "supporting" Senegalese entrepreneurship. But frankly, there are factoriessss stocked full of these baskets and really, 90% on a product made of straw and plastic, that is not labor-intensive to produce? Why mark something up to the point a person would be insane to spend $148 on a straw and plastic basket?!

Wow. Part of me is like, Damn, I need to get into the business of basket selling. Another part of me feels a little bit guilty because I am obviously for supporting humanitarian causes and giving back, especially to Senegal.... but I don't know. This seems wrong to me in some way. Wouldn't they sell more baskets if they were more reasonably priced? I for one would never pay over $100 for a straw basket, but would consider a more affordable (and still marked-up) price to pay for a beautiful and useful design piece. Please weigh in, maybe I'm missing something.

Mk, I'm stepping off my soap box now. Sorry for the incredulousness... now excuse me while I start brainstorming my new Etsy shop featuring overpriced African goods....

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